At a time when many people turn to energy drinks, spiked with caffeine to help them get through the day, another group of beverages is appealing to people who want to take it down a notch.

Paul Nadel, president of Neuro Drinks, a Santa Monica, California-based company that sells a line of drinks including Neuro Bliss, and Neuro Sleep says the “overmedicated culture we live in” has primed consumers for the concept of a relaxation drink.

Small studies have shown that some of the ingredients in relaxation drinks, including melatonin, valerian root and L-theanine seem to help fight sleeplessness, or may create a feeling of relaxation in certain situations.

While the ingredients may seem reasonably safe for adults, users should check with their doctor to understand how they might mix with other medications, or pre-existing illnesses, says Catherine Ulbricht, co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboaration, a Somerville, Mass. group that evaluates natural therapies. She adds that this class of beverages with multiple ingredients has not been well studied. “I don’t mean to sound scary, but it’s not water.”

Frequently the drinks are marketed as dietary supplements, a classification under Food and Drug Administration standards that means at least one ingredient is not considered conventional food. The FDA does not review the safety or quality of active ingredients in dietary supplements.

These relaxation drinks have entered the consumer market as traditional soda sales continue to decline, and companies have introduced drinks tailored to specific consumer needs. And, many consumers say they want a drink that feels “healthier” than soda. While some have only natural ingredients, other “functional” products claim a benefit such as energy, sleep or even cold-fighting properties…….     10/1/13


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